Shaped like a lion’s tail, and bounded by Senegal, Gambia is known for its diverse ecosystems especially along the central Gambia River. This great river widens as it flows through two protected areas of natural beauty – the woodlands of Kiang West National Park to the west, and the creeks and mangroves of Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve to the east. A safari adventure here all but guarantees sightings of monkeys, leopards, hippos, hyenas and rare birds. Venture upstream to find more hinterland wonders, from a chimpanzee island reserve to the ruins of a 17th-century castle. The vibrant capital, Banjul, and nearby Serrekunda offer access to smaller parks like Abuko Nature Reserve, and 80 km of beach-strewn coastline. Sanyang Beach is a favourite of locals and visitors alike. Hop on a bus to spend a day relaxing on its golden sands, backed by coconut palms and scenic lagoons. The vast majority of hotels and apartments can be found in Serrekunda, though overnight stays can be arranged at forest eco-lodges further along the river.